Expert AIDS Panel Issues Report Card
AIDS Action panel gives U.S. high marks for research and low marks for prevention and international efforts
December 1, 1998
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The 1998 Until It's Over Report Card was agreed to by a panel of AIDS experts and advocates including Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General; Mary Fisher, AIDS advocate and person living with HIV; Steve Gunderson, former Member of Congress (R-WI); Kate Shindle, Miss America 1998 and AIDS Action Pedro Zamora Fellow; Tavis Smiley, Host, BET Tonight, Black Entertainment Television; Jeanne White, Founder and President, Ryan White Foundation; Charles E. Young, UCLA Chancellor Emeritus and Daniel Zingale, AIDS Action Executive Director.
"Twenty years into the epidemic, America's record on AIDS remains uneven," said Zingale. "As America reaps the rewards of our investments in research and care, we're witnessing skyrocketing infection rates and an AIDS holocaust in Africa because of our failure to address prevention and international efforts."
While new AIDS drugs are prolonging the lives of thousands of HIV-positive Americans, their high cost make them virtually unavailable to most AIDS-ravaged underdeveloped nations, which now comprise 90% of the world's HIV-positive populations. Even worse, our government has failed to support emergency drug assistance and HIV prevention worldwide.
At a time of increasing HIV infection rates, official Washington has flat-funded domestic prevention and has failed to launch new initiatives around HIV prevention and education. Young people now comprise half of the estimated 40,000 new U.S. HIV infections every year.
Mary Fisher provided the only dissent on the panel, disagreeing with the research grade because of her concern about the government's failure to adequately address women's health.
HIV disease is now the third leading cause of death among women age 25 to 44.
"Because we fell for the myth that AIDS is a white, gay man's disease, we never prepared for what we now face," said Fisher. "As a result, we're desperate for research, for prevention, for access to care and for effective drug protocols for women."
Despite emergency care and treatment through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, official Washington has failed to modernize current federal policy that denies low-income HIV-positive Americans access to Medicaid and AIDS-preventing drugs until they develop full-blown AIDS.
This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.